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Boat Launching Tips For The Beginning Boater

March 21, 2008 03:39:36 AM

When it comes to launching a boat your entire success depends on how well you’re prepared. Everyone will benefit if you take the time to prepare your boat before you even reach the ramp. You should conduct an inspection of your boat prior to using it since there is always the possibility of damage or failure on the hull. Then, before backing down the ramp you should raise your outdrive or outboard motor and remove all tie-down straps and binders. It is also important to make sure that the boat winch is engaged and that it is attached to the eyebolt on the bow of your boat.

While waiting in line to launch your boat take the time to check your fuel level, vital fluids and make sure all your safety equipment is on board. Make sure the drain plug is installed, without the drain plug you won’t be going very far in your boat.

Once it’s your turn to launch it would be a good idea to have a partner so the entire process can go smoother. It’s best to have one person down the ramp while another holds a pre-attached line to help guide the boat off the trailer. It’s also a good idea to have someone in the boat so they can drive it away from the trailer after it’s in the water.

Backing The Trailer Up

One of the hardest parts of launching a boat is reversing with a trailer. To do this you should first position your vehicle and trailer in as straight a line as you can manage and stay about a trailer’s length from the place where you are going to reverse to. While you slowly reverse, keep your eyes on the trailer from the driver’s window, then start turning the steering wheel to the right slightly.

To steer gently and progressively you should grab the wheel at the bottom, this makes it easier to add more steering to correct after turning too much. Grabbing at the bottom will also prevent you from over-turning the wheel. It also provides you with an excellent reference point without having to look, you always know that at the lowest point your wheels will be straight again. Once you notice the trailer start to turn then you should straighten slightly while reversing. The trailer will jack-knife if you straighten too late or move the wheel too quickly. Soon you will be steering in the opposite direction while reversing. Have the front of the vehicle follow the trailer and watch where the trailer is in case you need to make corrections.

Look in both mirrors and continue to reverse in a straight line. Back up carefully and slowly. If you notice more of the trailer in one mirror then steer towards that side in order to get the trailer to move the other way. When correcting only use small steering movements. You can also move forward to straighten the trailer if needed. Be sure to practice some at home until you are confident with your ability so that you won’t have to learn the hard way at the ramp while people wait in line behind you.

Launching Your Boat

When launching your boat there are a few simple suggestions you should follow to make it easy and simple. Make sure you observe the direction signage. Keep the rear wheels of your tow vehicle out of the water, which means you are also keeping the exhaust pipes out of the water. Immersing the exhaust pipes in water may cause the engine to stall. Make sure you set the parking brake and have the transmission in park. Start the boat motor to make sure water is passing through the engine cooling system and that there are no fuel leaks.

Once the boat operator is ready you can release the winch and disconnect the winch line from the bow. By now your boat should easily launch with a simple shove or just by backing off the trailer under power. As soon as you launch your boat return your towing vehicle and trailer to the parking lot so the next person can launch. If there is any final loading required you can do that at the transient mooring float so that you aren’t in anyone’s way.

About The Author

Keith Raven - You can find great boating items like the Big Mable Towable and the Big Bertha Tube along with you favorite Boat Towables at PremiumPowerSports.com